by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Business Magazine Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) today completed the sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to subsidiaries of NorthStar Group Services, which will decommission the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station site. The sale completion is a major step toward the safe, timely and efficient decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, and is a positive outcome for the Town of Vernon, Windham County, the State of Vermont and other stakeholders. The sale is a first-of-its-kind in the nuclear power industry – a permanent ownership and license transfer to a company that is slated to perform timely and efficient decommissioning and site restoration.
Under its ownership, NorthStar will commence decommissioning and environmental clean-up work at the facility on an expedited timeline, which will allow the site to become available for reuse decades earlier than previously planned. The VYNPS ceased operations at the end of 2014 under the ownership of Entergy, and the plant has since been prepared to undergo decommissioning including the removal and management of spent nuclear fuel from the reactor.
On December 6, 2018, the Vermont Public Utility Commission issued an order approving the sale and transfer of the facility to NorthStar, ending a years-long process and review by the State of the proposed sale to NorthStar and of NorthStar’s proposed plan for an expedited clean-up up the VYNPS site. The Commission’s Order adopts and incorporates the terms of an agreement that was reached among State agencies (Department of Public Service, Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Health), the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, NorthStar, Entergy, and several parties in the PUC proceeding. The agreement ensures that decommissioning and cleanup activities commence as early as this year and will be completed by 2030, perhaps earlier, and the project will be bolstered by additional financial protections.
“This is a great day for the people of Vernon, Windham County and Vermont. The agreement will shave decades off the decommissioning timeline and return the site to safe and productive reuse as quickly as possible,” said Governor Phil Scott. “The State initially had concerns that Entergy and North Star were not willing to make sufficient financial commitments to this process in order to protect Vermonters. We pressed the companies to address our concerns, and we are pleased with the end result.”
In addition, the agreement with NorthStar and Entergy requires that the two companies collectively provide approximately $250 million in additional financial assurance above and beyond what is currently available in the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust for the VYNPS decommissioning. This additional assurance will help to protect against project risks and will ensure that funds are available to complete the decommissioning and restoration work.
The agreement also requires NorthStar to perform site investigation, clean up, and restoration in accordance with Vermont’s laws and regulations, and to engage with ANR and other state agencies throughout the life of the project. The agreement also ensures that the State has oversight of disbursements of funds for certain phases of work and is informed of any major delays or disruptions in work. These commitments ensure close and ongoing State regulatory oversight of the project.
“I want to thank the teams at the departments of Public Service, Environmental Conservation and Health, the Agency of Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s office, as well as all of the signatories on this deal for their constructive engagement,” added Governor Scott.
The Commission’s order followed approval of the sale by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on October 11, 2018.
The NorthStar decommissioning team includes Orano USA (reactor vessel segmentation and used fuel management support), Waste Control Specialists (waste management, packaging, transport and disposal) and Burns & McDonnell (engineering and regulatory support).
Entergy and NorthStar announced the sale agreement in November 2016. The Vermont Public Utility Commission on Dec. 6, 2018 issued an order approving the sale of Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee and an amended Certificate of Public Good that authorizes NorthStar to own, possess the licenses for, and decommission Vermont Yankee. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Oct. 11, 2018 approved the transfer of Vermont Yankee's operating licenses to NorthStar.
The transaction closed on terms consistent with the companies' previously disclosed financial commitments and assurances, and no contribution to the nuclear decommissioning trust was required. For Entergy, the transaction will result in a pre-tax book charge to earnings in an amount that the company expects to be consistent with estimates previously disclosed. The estimated charge will be recorded in fourth quarter 2018 and will be considered a special item and excluded from operational results.
In addition, Entergy is making progress on its corporate strategy of exiting the merchant nuclear power business. It plans to close the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts later this year and transfer the license to Holtec, based in New Jersey. Entergy also has plants in New York State that it wants to close or sell.
About Vermont Yankee, Entergy and NorthStar
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, a single unit boiling water reactor located in Vernon, Vermont, began commercial operation in 1972. Entergy acquired the plant from Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation in 2002. The plant permanently ceased operations on Dec. 29, 2014.
Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11 billion and more than 13,000 employees. More information is available at www.entergy.com and www.vydecommissioning.com.
NorthStar Group Services, based in New York, is the country's most comprehensive facility and environmental solutions company, with more than $600 million in annual sales and licenses in all 50 states. NorthStar owns and maintains a large, nationwide inventory of specialized dismantling equipment and employs more than 3,000 people. More information is available at www.northstar.com.
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SOURCE Jan. 11, 2019. Governor Scott. VERNON, Vt./PRNewswire/ -- Entergy Corporation. www.entergy.com